ABOARD NW333, DECEMBER 31, 2003 During my flight to LA, a stewardess paced slowly through the aisles with two Rose Bowl tickets in her hand. She approach my row and I heard her ask if anyone wanted tickets to the game. A lady across my row raised her hand, excited, and the stewardess brought the tickets over. I took off my headphones and asked her what the story was. She said a guy up front was selling the tickets for $200 apiece.
Checking out the tickets, I could see that they are in the Michigan section and that they were bought from the ticket office for $140, just like mine. So, someone up in first class just made a cool $120. Weak.
You love it but it’s not going to happen. Or will it?
SALINE, MI NOVEMBER 28, 2003 Here are the ways Michigan can still win at least a piece of the national championship:
1. Win Sugar Bowl. I don’t know what would is a tougher challenge, Michigan beating Oklahoma or Michigan getting to the Sugar Bowl. If USC and LSU both lose, there is a very good shot that Michigan would make it to the BCS championship game. Win, and Michigan will automatically be declared the national champion. Odds: 2%.
2. Win the Rose Bowl, AND… Yes, Michigan can still win the national championship if they play in the Rose Bowl. While the Sugar Bowl winner is automatically the ESPN/Coaches national champ, the Associated Press still votes after the bowls are complete. For this to be a reasonable assumption, a two-loss LSU, Georgia, or Tennessee would need to upset Oklahoma in the Sugar, and Michigan would need to take down USC in the Rose Bowl. If a one-loss USC makes it to the Sugar Bowl and wins, Michigan won’t get the AP vote. Odds: 4%.
Michigan Offense Too Much for Buckeyes, Luck Stops Here
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN NOVEMBER 22, 2003 What a win in a crazy game. A Chris Perry touchdown run late in the fourth quarter essentially put it away, although I wasn’t comfortable until Ernest Shazor intercepted Scott McMullen’s pass with under two minutes to play. Here are a few takes on this incredible game, which was of course the 100th meeting between the two teams:
– We’ll see how this shakes out in the BCS, but it looks like Michigan will surely end up in the 2004 Rose Bowl, and Ohio State will end up in some other BCS Bowl.
– Chris Perry made excellent cuts all day and ran like crazy on the #1 rushing defense in the nation. I’m hoping that he gets invited to New York for the Heisman trophy presentation (he needs to be in the top 4). Putting artificial turf in the stadium was a huge boost for the Blue. This 14 point win was the closest of the year at home.
– John Navarre played a sharp game, just as he has the past several weeks since his legendary comeback against Minnesota.
– Jason Avant going down early was a concern, but that’s probably Michigan’s deepest position. Ann Arbor native (Pioneer) Carl Tabb filled in nicely making two great catches. Avant’s attempt to pump up the crowd while being carted off the field was classic.
– When Perry went down it was definitely pretty nerve racking. Most of the stadium was chanting, “PER-RY, PER-RY, PER-RY”, like we were audibly reviving a professional wrestler. That said, it was pretty sweet.
– Steve Breaston is something. It is obvious that the guy is fast and elusive, but can take a serious hit. He’s tough.
– Lloyd Carr is now 14-3 lifetime against teams ranked in the Top 10.
– Ohio State’s punter put on a show with his booming, long, high and well placed punts. It was the best punting performance I’ve ever seen. Maligned Michigan punter Adam Finley played the best I’ve ever seen him play, getting off great punts as well (but nothing compared to that freak from Ohio State. That guy is a weapon).
– Lew Popoff and I got to the game about 45 minutes early and hung out near the Michigan sideline at the 50 yard line in Row #1. We both got the chills seeing the team come out of the tunnel and under the M Club banner. We also met two-time Heisman trophy winner Buckeye Archie Griffin (see photo left) and had a chance to witness the Buckeye band’s epic “Script Ohio” front and center.
– The entire game the Michigan players were urging the crowd to stand up and make noise. Our section was standing for the vast majority of the game.
– Sizing up the number of alumni players on the field, Lew correctly predicted that the record crowd would exceed 112,000.
– My game prediction was totally wrong; I’d guess I’m not the only one. I saw a tight first half with M pulling away in the second (wrong). I saw OSU getting to Navarre (no sacks), and Chris Perry being pretty much shut down (ha!). And who would have thought that this game would be a shoot-out? Craig Krenzel (or Kris Kringle as Brent Grow called him after the game) is a tough SOB.
– After the game, the large section of Buckeye fans remained at the game in the South end zone. About 50-100 Michigan students who were on the field ran over to the OSU corner to taunt them. Many of the students were armed with “the bird” on both hands. It was quite a sight.
– I heard that Grump Lloyd Carr tore into the ABC guy who asked him why he didn’t try to score with 40 seconds left in the half. He is something, man. It cracks me up that he ripped into the guy (and I agree that it is a stupid question), but Lloyd is a grump. On Michigan Replay on Sunday morning Carr apologized.
– For those wondering, Good Time Charley’s did not run out of chicken wings after the game, but we did everything we could to help them try. The waiter said he’d never seen more downed chicken wings at a table. The crew of Timmy, Greek, Lew and Ks were happy to take this title.
– It looks like OSU will fall just one slot behind Michigan in the BCS standings (projected by Brad Edwards on ESPN). So..we’ll have to see how far behind they are and if the teams ahead of OSU in the human polls lose in the final weeks of the season…watch out!
– Dude, is every Ohio State Buckeye fan entitled to a lifetime collection of cheesy sunglasses?
Get to your seat early and hang on. The center of the sporting universe will in Ann Arbor and in particular at the corner of Main and Stadium. Kickoff of the 100th meeting of the Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio State Buckeyes will be at high noon.
The winner will be holder of the 2003 Big Ten championship outright. Remember, Ohio State shared the Big Ten title last year with Iowa.
For Michigan, a victory will also mean a likely trip to the Rose Bowl to face USC or an at-large BCS team. If some things happen to fall their way in the coming weeks, the M could even weasel into the BCS championship. With a loss, Michigan’s season will certainly hold great memories, but will be remembered as another season of unfulfilled promise. It would mean another door-prize Florida bowl game against another SEC opponent, and potentially a dreaded four loss season. On top of that, a loss would be the third consecutive to Jim Tressel, who would would remain undefeated against the Wolverines and begin to have people talking about Lloyd Carr as they did John Cooper. A loss would be devastating, especially with this game at home.
For the Buckeyes, a victory would no doubt keep them at the #2 position in the BCS standings and in line for a chance to defend their title in the Sugar Bowl. A loss? They could still end up in a BCS bowl or head to Florida.
Rumored attendees of the battle include Timmy Adams, Greek, Ks, Mr. Kuehne, Lew, Me, Brent Grow, Schlimmy.
Slam on President in Sports page is bush league
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN OCT. 19, 2003
In an article in the Saturday “Football Special” section of the Ann Arbor News a sports columnist wrote the following:
So why not use the hurry-up offense more? Heck, why not use it all the time?
“That’s certainly a legitimate question, ” coach Lloyd Carr said Monday. Which – coming from the man who said, ‘We’re going to run the ball or die trying’ – is a bit like Henry Ford advocating public transportation or George W. Bush championing fiscal responsibility.”
This is what I have to suffer through on Saturday morning? My liberal sports columnist’s take on our President? As if the Ann Arbor News doesn’t have enough space to show its leftist leanings? No matter what you think about Bush, this political take doesn’t belong in a sports section. It’s amateurish at best. Come on JC! You can do better than that! (He has written some great pieces in the past couple years, including an excellent article on Chris Webber and why he should be banned from the University, and a story comparing John Navarre to Jeff Smoker).
SALINE, MI OCT. 8, 2003 A few items about this week’s game that you may not be reading in your local fishwraps:
– The game is being played for the Little Brown Jug, and Michigan has retained the Jug for the last 14 games. Michigan has won 31 of the last 33 meetings.
– These teams met last year, also at Minnesota, where Michigan won 41-24.
– The game is on Friday because the Gophers share the Metrodome with the Twins, who had the possibility of playing in the American League playoffs on Saturday. The Twins lost, but as I told Awes II, you can’t unring a bell, and all the arrangements have already been made to play the game on Friday. Minnesota has to play all of Michigan’s travel costs associated with the move.
– The last time M played on Friday was against Minnesota in 1991 for the same reason. Michigan won 52-6.
– A loss could send Michigan out of the AP writers poll, where they have appeared in the top 25 during the past 84 polls. The Michigan SID says this is the longest active streak.
– XFL legend Rod Smart aka “He Hate Me” ran a kick back for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
Brown Jug stays in Ann Arbor for 15th straight game
SALINE, MI OCT. 11, 2003 Even the biggest John Navarre supporters probably were secretly wishing that we’d get a look at freshman Matt Gutierrez at some point in the third quarter. It looked like things were out of hand and that this was Minnesota’s year. Navarre was missing receivers and the defense was giving up major rushing yards seemingly on every snap.
Down three touchdowns at the end of the third quarter, Navarre led the Blue back. With delicate passes and textbook footwork, he navigated the Wolverines down the field within incredible efficiency. Of course, we saw similar drives near the end of the Iowa and Oregon losses.
So remarkable was the rapid comeback is that despite a Minnesota touchdown negating a Michigan score (an inexcusable 52 yard run by Abdul-Khaliq on a third and short), when M had the ball for the last time, they actually had to slow down to milk the clock. They scored 31 in the last quarter without the benefit of an on sides kick. After the game, Coach Carr was interviewed in the tunnel and was giddy as a school boy. He was fortunate, because the wolves were coming out all week on local radio calling for his head.
Despite the win, there will be many things to criticize next week, starting with Lloyd Carr’s stubborn insistence on trying his ridiculous 7-3 punt formation one more time. Minnesota just missed snuffing it. After that, the fans will look for answers on how the defenses can give up 425 yards on the ground (to anyone, let alone Minnesota). One guy who will avoid the criticism is Navarre, who is responsible for this gift win. He did not waiver and finally finished a ranked team on the road.
Michigan’s win makes it 15 straight and 32 of 34 against the Gophers. One take: Dude, how big were jugs back then? If that is a “little” brown jug, I’d like to see a big one. Good lord – they have to haul that thing in on a cart!
BCS Scenario: Buckeyes Lose to Michigan but still end up in BCS Championship?
ALEXANDRIA, VA NOVEMBER 18, 2003 While everyone is crunching all the BCS theories, here’s another one I call “The Luckeye Phenomenon”. Here’s how it goes: Let’s say all the things that have to happen for Michigan to weasel into the BCS championship occur. To repeat, Michigan beats OSU on Saturday, and LSU and USC lose one of their remaining games, and Michigan, as would be expected, gains enough in the computer poll to pass the other 2 loss teams (Texas, Tennessee, and Georgia).
Well, as I’m looking at the numbers, under the scenario of events that would seemingly put the Wolverines in the Sugar Bowl, I see a strong possibility that a 2 loss Ohio State, despite losing to Michigan, could still go to the BCS championship game and screw the Blue. Each computer poll loves the Buckeyes, they are ranked #2 in every one except for Jeff Sagarin who has them #3 (good ol’ Hoosier, Jeff).
If they lose to Michigan, the Buckeye’s BCS computer average will drop, but by how much? I’d imagine losing to a top 10 team can’t hurt you that much. There is no “justice” in the computer ranking, i.e., the machine won’t automatically drop a defeated opponent behind the victor. Losing to Michigan certainly won’t hurt their schedule strength, which is a factor in the computer polls as well as its own component in the BCS calculation. Ohio State would drop down in the human polls, but again I ask how much? We are already assuming that USC and LSU lost…why would OSU drop below them? So if Georgia, Tennessee and/or Texas win out, would they be definitely be slotted higher than a two loss Ohio State? I don’t think so.
Showdown at the Big House on Saturday
SALINE, MI NOVEMBER 17, 2003 Suddenly the Michigan Wolverines look like the team they thought they were after destroying Notre Dame. The Northwestern Wildcats could do little to stop the offense that attacked from all sides, and a defense that rendered the Wildcats’ gimmicky offense feeble. With a win against the Ohio State Luckeyes on Saturday, M will at worst head back to Pasadena.
QB John Navarre must have been feeling it, as he is seen left awkwardly breaking out a little taste of “The Bird”, perhaps paying homage to Dools and Lew’s last trip to the Rose Bowl where one evening was spent taking in a concert by Morris Day and The Time at the House of Blues.
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN SEPTEMBER 29, 2003 Mvictors.com has learned (via telephone source) this morning that Jim Cnockaert, University of Michigan football beat writer for the Ann Arbor News, has been fired. He was let go sometime between the Notre Dame and Oregon games. He covered the ND game for the News but did not cover the loss to Oregon. There has been no mention of the firing in the News or on WTKA 1050AM, where Cnockaert appeared today as he does each Monday as a “Michigan football insider”. Developing.
Update 12/01/03: I haven’t heard anything else about this since I posted this. Have you? I hear Jim on 1050 WTKA but I still have nothing.